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Can Zuckerberg Leap the Great Firewall of China? 102

Hugh Pickens writes "The Guardian reports that Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is in China and has met with Robin Li, the head of Baidu, as he toured the facility of the biggest search engine in China. Zuckerberg has made no secret of his desire to expand in China, where Facebook has been blocked by the government censors' Great Firewall since 2008. On a recent global map of Facebook users, China appeared as a black spot, though it has a bigger internet population than any country on earth. 'How can you connect the whole world if you leave out a billion people?' says Zuckerberg. China already has two Facebook imitators: Kaixin, with 80 million users, and Renren, with 150 million, but these lack the economic clout and global reach of Zuckerberg's company although they do have the advantages of language and cultural awareness, as well as the protection of the Great Firewall. 'If Facebook wanted to enter China, it would not have to change its function, because netizens here are used to copycats already, but it must, like other international internet companies, obey Chinese laws and regulations,' said Hu Yong, a professor at Beijing University's School of Journalism and Communication."
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Can Zuckerberg Leap the Great Firewall of China?

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Monday December 20, 2010 @10:10AM (#34614960) Journal

    "How can you connect the whole world if you leave out a billion people?"

    China's response will probably be something along the lines of "How can you modify Facebook so that we are not only able to censor it but violators are automatically reported to a government agency?" Time and time again it's been demonstrated in China: if you can play ball, you're in.

    The quote following the above is pretty indicative of what Zuckerberg fails to understand:

    "Our theory is that if we can show that we as a western company can succeed in a place where no other country has, then we can start to figure out the right partnerships we would need to succeed in China on our terms."

    So naive. It's that simple, huh? You weren't paying attention when Google went in, made friends with scholars and scientists and was promptly put in their place when the government tired of their novelty?

    You're the copycat now, Mark. You are going to go into China thinking that you're are going to turn the tide and you're going to be met with the same immovable wall anyone who has sought to change the PRC has faced. But what you are going to have to do is look at how the Facebook copycats have served up private data and fingering individuals for putting the wrong number in their status update. And you're pretty much going to be told what to do and either you're going to do it or you're going to be back at square one. You're an outsider coming into China so you might as well drop the whole "This is how it's going to change" attitude. You're just going to be embarrassed when you find out that any deviation to their laws and customs puts your right to host a website at risk in their country.

    "A western company can succeed in a place where no other country has?" So what are you going to do different? Congratulations, you made friends with Baidu. All that means is now someone can tell you the optimal way to achieve vertical height when the CCP screams "JUMP!"

    My money is on you going in there thinking you're going to relax censorship only to find out that you're going to be one of their ultimate tools to enforce it. And then there's going to be this massive pile of money on the table and you can either take that and expand in China by wiping your ass with morals and ethics or you can walk away. I bet you get on your knees and bark like a dog while spinning it as a 'Western company succeeding!' And if you want the most money, that's exactly what you should do!

  • Re:Not a chance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Monday December 20, 2010 @10:30AM (#34615144)

    Facebook allows way too much communication and freedom. Both are dangerous to their regime.

    With enough money to be made: I am sure FB will find ways of adapting to meet China's requirements or at least reach a compromise, probably involving FB taking definitive actions to assist government spying and government censorship.

  • by gauauu ( 649169 ) on Monday December 20, 2010 @11:19AM (#34615530)

    Replying the AC that you might not see due to a score of 0:
    Perhaps the great firewal is part myth and FUD spun by capitalist media and governments to suit their own ends and backed up by the chinese who want to show the illusion of control?

    No, it's real. When I lived there, there were definitely sites that were blocked. I do (or more correctly, DID) homebrew gameboy advance development, and the best site for GBA homebrew development (, was among the sites blocked, which drove me crazy (really? Why is THAT site blocked?) Various blogs and such were also blocked. As far as I can tell, the firewall is there.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle